Game in a nutshell: For the final game of his illustrious managerial career, Davey Johnson decided to let his rookies and reserves take the field while his regulars got to enjoy the view from the dugout. Turns out those kids put together a solid performance of their own. Tanner Roark completed a surprising and impressive rookie campaign with seven innings of 1-run ball. Tyler Moore, Zach Walters and Steve Lombardozzi combined to produce two runs in the top of the sixth and give the Nationals a 2-1 lead. Ryan Mattheus, though, coughed up the lead in the bottom of the eighth and forced his teammates to try to mount one final rally in the ninth. They couldn’t do it, so the Nationals finished their season with an 86-76 record, four games behind the Reds for the final Wild Card berth in the NL. And Johnson ends his career in disappointing fashion.
Hitting highlight: The Nationals’ lone rally of the day came via well-struck balls from three young players. Moore roped a grounder to third and reached on what was scored an error to open the sixth inning. Walters then roped a triple past Gerardo Parra in right field, scoring Moore. Lombardozzi capped it off with an RBI single, the third time he reached base on the day.
Pitching highlight: What a remarkable rookie campaign this turned out to be for Roark. A virtual unknown in the Nationals’ farm system when the season began, he earned his first big-league promotion over the summer, pitched well out of the bullpen to earn a shot in the rotation and then dominated after that. With seven innings of 1 (unearned) run ball, the 26-year-old right-hander finished 7-1 with a 1.51 ERA. He allowed only 49 baserunners in 53 2/3 innings, showed legitimate “stuff” and also showed he knows a thing or two about the art of pitching. Will the Nationals hand him a spot in the 2014 rotation? Probably not. But he’s going to be called upon at some point to contribute next season, no doubt about it.
Key stat: Davey Johnson finished his managerial career with a 1,372-1,071 record, six division titles and one World Series title. He’s only the 15th manager in MLB history to own a record at least 300 games over the .500 mark.
Up next: Well, pitchers and catchers will be reporting to Viera in approximately 140 days.